Influences in life


Right after I became a Christian in the early 80s, I attended a conference for college students in Dallas. In the days before cell phones, pay phones adorned a long wall in the lobby of this fancy conference hotel, like a row of slot machines.

During a break in the seminars, I grabbed a roll of dimes and called every friend I had in Dallas, inviting them to join me. Josh McDowell was a popular key note speaker and there was buzz about his talk that evening.

“This is Cathy Primer. I’m in Dallas for a conference. We’ve got a great speaker tonight, Josh McDowell. He’s famous; he’s funny and smart. He won’t be boring at all. Why don’t you join me?” I said to my friends’ message machines in rapid succession for a half hour.

Standing shoulder to shoulder, the man next to me kept cupping his receiver, whispering, glancing at me, and snickering. I ignored him.

After my last call, I hung up. He did too. As he turned toward me, I thought, Oh dear, he wants to talk to me.

“I couldn’t help but notice that you’re calling all your friends to invite them to hear this guy, Josh McDowell. Have you ever heard him speak?” he asked.

“No, sir. But he’s gonna be great.” Then, it dawned on me that God wanted me to lead him to Jesus that night. “You should come. You can sit with me and my friends.”

“I’m going to be there tonight,” he responded decisively. “By the way, what’s your name?”

“My name is Cathy Primer,” I said, stretching out my hand to shake his.

“It’s nice to meet you. My name is Josh McDowell.”

Sometimes, influence is so close, we can reach out and touch it. However, with Billy Graham and Margie Roper entering heaven within weeks of each I’ve been thinking about Dr. Margie a lot. Mom and I planned to drop by for a visit, but Mom ended up in the hospital. After Mom died, I wanted Dr. Margie to comfort me, but suddenly she was gone, too. Over the years, Dr. Margie unofficially mentored me simply by pointing me in the right direction. She knew four generations of my family; she always made me feel rooted.

She played hymns like an angel. We’d sing together. She never once winced, but applauded my enthusiasm for the old truths sung in loud voices over the worn keys of her piano in the room where she influenced so many of us who loved her. If you happen to read I’ve flown away, I’m probably sitting next to Dr. Margie, flipping the pages of her hymnal in heaven, singing, “Oh, how I love Jesus….”

Cathy Primer Krafve, aka Checklist Charlie, lives and writes with a Texas twang. Contact her at


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